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Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh – A Philosophical Perspective

For this blog post, I have chosen “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. I have chosen this because Van Gogh is my favourite artist and this is a wonderful work of art done by him. This is artwork because it invokes feeling and it is a very inspiring piece that has been admired by many people, and it will continue to be admired for years to come. This piece is appealing because it is in a very traditional style of art and it gives the audience a feel of awe since the artist was able to do that kind of work in the premodern times, when they did not have the technology and the knowledge of art that we have now, and that in itself deserves admiration. My answers to the questions above reflect my views of art because I view that the way that we value art depends on what we view as art. Since we all have different views on what is beautiful and what is not, beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder so to speak. However in my answers, I show that some art is liked by a greater audience because of the simple feeling it invokes and the time in which it was produced. Though it may be liked by a greater audience, it still lacks objectivity because not everyone in the world will have the same view; their views may vary even in the simplest of terms. The theory that supports my view of aesthetics is Rene Descartes’ because in his theory, he believes that beauty pleases, and if something pleases, it is in some way beautiful. This means that the value of the aesthetics is based purely on how it is received by the people, or how they take it. Which agrees with what I think about art because of the varying degrees of interest and the acceptance by the people affects the value of the artwork. And because of everyone’s different experiences and ideas, every piece has a different value to each person. So in conclusion, the value that art carries varies from person to person, and therefore, it is more often than not, subjective.

Immanuel Kant – Theism

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is considered a very important person in modern philosophy. Kant’s ideas of God come from his argument/differing views in comparison to fellow contemporary philosopher, David Hume, and his idea’s on empiricism, which is the belief that knowledge comes solely from what we experience. Kant believes that knowledge is neither empiricism or rationalism, but rather, both. Kant believes that knowledge is the unification of reason and experience. Kant refers to the idea of God and the immortal souls of humans (like passing on into another life, instead of dying of), as Ideas of Reason, which means that while those things cannot be experienced, they come from basic reasoning. Kant says that those concepts can be thought because they are generally positive, and lead to positive consequences for example, being inspired by the idea of God, will make the person act morally good.

Gottried Wilhelm Leibniz – Theism

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was another Christian philosopher, who instead of using basic ideas, he takes a counter argumentative stance to Atheism. Although he is more of a deist, he believes that God did create the universe, which is comparable to a theist. He argues that Atheists only see the bad in situations and so they are short-sighted. For example, if one were to look at a large picture, from a close perspective, it would look very disorganized and ugly; however if one were to look the picture from far away, we would see the whole picture for what it really is. So he argues that Atheists are the ones looking at the picture from a close perspective and they draw conclusions based on the negative things that they see rather than trying to get a different perspective and coming to a proper conclusion.

St. Thomas of Aquinas – Theism

St. Thomas of Aquinas was also a Christian philosopher and theologian, who came up with the “five ways” in his Summa Theologica. The five ways serves as a way to explain God and prove his existence based on what we experience through nature because he believed that in order to prove the existence of God, to people, he must be able to relate it to themselves. Aquinas believed that Anselm’s flaw must be addressed, and so he bases his five ways off of the ontological argument. The five ways are as follows: argument from motion, argument from efficient causes, argument from possibility and necessity, argument from gradation of being, and and argument from design.

Argument from Motion
In order for something to be put in motion, it must be set in motion by something else, either supernatural, or of a different type. The first mover has to be God because the mover has to be a supernatural (be not natural, for example: humans, animals, etc.) being and exist outside the natural world, or be of a different type. And in order to set everything else in motion, He must be of a different type than everything else.

Argument from Efficient Cause
Everything in nature requires a cause, something that is outside of the being itself. The efficient cause means that everything in nature requires a cause, which is outside of the being (like an external force, something that exists on its own) and it is necessary to arrive at the first efficient cause, which St. Thomas says is God. If there is not a first cause, simply nothing will happen because everything in nature requires a cause, like an illness for example, is caused by bacteria, and the spread of bacteria.

Argument from Possibility and Necessity
In nature there are possible beings that are possible because of the one necessary being. Possible beings are what is possible through the necessary being, which is God. What this means is that the necessary being is something that must exist because without it, much like the first mover, and the first cause, nothing can happen. There are only possible beings because of the necessary being.

Argument from Gradation of Being
There are beings that are “more” or “less”, the level depends on a being that is the cause of the goodness. What this means is that the cause of goodness is something to which creates and idea which we compare everything else to, for example cold is not an independent property, cold is instead, the lack of heat, but heat itself is the independent property, so when we are talking about how cold something is, we are talking about the lack of heat in it.

Argument from Design
Nature lacks intelligence, but every being is directed to its end (goal). The being which directs beings to their end is God. Basically, nature is being led to its end, and the one leading them is God.

St. Anselm of Canterbury – Theism

One of the first arguments made was by St. Anselm of Canterbury, a Christian philosopher, and theologian. Anselm said that if you are going to think about God, your mind obliges you to think about a being than which no greater can be thought of, this is known as the ontological argument. Ontology is the category of philosophical systems that deals with the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and the relations between them all. This is an arguable idea when put in the context of theism because it is what you must think when you think about God and in itself does nothing in relation to the argument of whether or not God exists. This means that if someone was to think of the greatest possible meal, but in reality they ate out of a garbage can, what they ate out of the garbage can is greater than the meal that they had dreamed up because it is reality, and in Anselm’s idea, reality trumps non-reality, and so if God is supremely perfect, and the greatest possible thing, then He must exist since He cannot be greater than something that exists, if he does not. What Anselm is saying is that you must think of God as that which nothing greater can be thought of, or the supreme being. The major flaw in the ontological argument is that it assumes that God exists, or rather that one would have to assume that God exists.

Aristotle – Theism

Aristotle was one of the first philosophers who spoke about and documented the idea of theism. His argument was known as the Cosmological Argument. In the Cosmological Argument, He argued that:

  1. Everything that exists or begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe exists, and began to exist.
  3. The universe must have a cause.
  4. The cause of the universe is God.

This serves as the basis for many arguments for the evidence in proving the existence of God, or a Supreme Being, in the theist belief system. However this is a very basic logic idea, in that it is not specific on a certain idea. As it is a basic idea, it is not very in depth and it it does not specify certain ideas.